Does Planned Parenthood Reduce Abortions by Preventing Pregnancies?
by Rachel MacNair
We’re aware of people whose hearts sincerely ache at the killing of unborn children, and who take action to educate about the horrors of abortion and otherwise try to prevent it, who ask: if PP is a major provider of contraception, and this prevents pregnancies, doesn’t PP therefore prevent abortions? PP certainly declares so.
Many consistent-life sympathizers are most familiar with the peace and social justice movements, and PP advertises its views in these movements’ venues quite effectively. So we have sympathizers who wonder if cutting off funds to PP wouldn’t actually increase abortions, as PP claims.
One point is that re-allocating the funds elsewhere, as opposed to simply cutting them off, helps address this concern. We at the Consistent Life Network are working on this directly with our campaign of finding good health-care alternatives already available near each specific PP location, and where those are insufficient, encouraging pro-lifers to think of establishing such alternatives or improving those available.
Yet there’s more to the story.
Is PP a Major Provider of Family Planning?
PP currently has roughly 600 locations in the United States, according to the listings on their own website.
So PP’s contribution is relatively small. If the federal taxpayer money spent on PP were spent elsewhere, there’s plenty of elsewhere to spend it.
The major sources of PP’s taxpayer funding are Title X and Medicaid. Title X family planning grants go to different medical centers to help them provide family planning. Medicaid pays directly for services received at whatever eligible place the patient chooses to go. Most Title X grants and Medicaid payments right now go to medical facilities not associated with PP.
(If you’ve heard a higher figure for how many PP centers there are, other figures are outdated. In 2017 alone, PP centers had a rush of closings – 32 closed, mainly in rural areas, with 5 opened, mainly in large urban areas.)
Is PP a Major Provider of Women’s Health Care?
Here’s a statistic for pap smears, and other forms of medical care have similar ratios:
More than this, though – PP’s women’s health services have been dramatically declining in recent years:
Graphic from screenshots of video: Le$$ Care, No Matter What
For recently updated figures, see their new chart/fact sheet.
PP’s Abortion Priority
Of the roughly 600 PP locations, around 350 do surgical and chemical abortions, as listed on their own website. Though sources differ on how many abortion clinics there are overall in the U.S., we know there are well under a thousand. So we know that, unlike their small share of contraception availability, PP is responsible for a very large portion of abortion availability.
The remaining roughly 250 PP centers all refer for abortions – usually to the nearby PP abortion center within their own affiliate (set by region). All affiliates have at least one abortion center.
PP is a major political force for abortion. Money is fungible, and any they get from taxpayers will end up in abortion advocacy indirectly. The pro-life movement is at a major disadvantage in its work because of this huge behemoth getting millions of dollars.
PP pushes abortion internationally, too.
But, Still – Doesn’t PP’s Contraception Work Lower Abortion?
Not according to any empirical studies; see Chapter 16 of Peace Psychology Perspective on Abortion, which covers studies and explanations for why they turn out the way they do.
The figures PP cites are just speculative projections based on how much contraception they dispensed. They don’t offer controlled experiments to back up their case.
There’s also a piece of possible contrary evidence. A natural experiment (where no one set out to do an experiment, yet the conditions for one are in place) comes from the Texas Panhandle, At first, Planned Parenthood facilities operated there on a large scale. In 1999, five of its facilities closed; in 2001, seven more. Four more shut down later, so by 2008, none remained in the Texas Panhandle. If you check out Table 14B of Texas statistics of teenage pregnancies, you can see that in PP’s absence, the teenage pregnancy rate went down.
That doesn’t really bear on the direct impact of contraception on abortion, which is a much more complicated question. But it bears on PP’s approach to promoting contraception, at least to the 13-17 year age group.
Yet – Don’t They Still Provide Some Good and Needed Services?
Carol Crossed responds to this question:
I like to use the argument about the Nestlé boycott. We received all sorts of angst from those who believed that Nestlé provided good products (which they did) and provided good jobs (which they did). The same can be said of any boycott, any government, any targeting of a capitalistic business. Their evil is disguised by the good they do.
In PP’s case, the violence is so egregious that it dwarfs what might be good services. It’s not simply that PP is the largest chain of abortion clinics in the US and a major abortion promoter globally. Former PP workers have brought to light how much abortion is PP’s best money-maker. See these articles from CLN board member Sarah Terzo:
Even worse, see this May, 2018 report:
Planned Parenthood’s Cover-up of Child Sexual Abuse.
PP is the Walmart of abortion clinics, and every bit as inclined to assure us of the goodness of their products as the tobacco industry is. Accordingly, I think their claims should be examined carefully, and not taken at face value.
This post was slightly revised and updated August 20, 2019.
For other posts addressing questions on abortion from a consistent-life view, see:
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